About Me

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Hammersmith, London, United Kingdom
I'm a director of Maidenhead United Football Club. For ten seasons one of my roles at the club was to produce the match programme. The aim of this blog was to write football related articles for publication in the match programme. In particular I like to write about the representation of football in popular culture, specifically music, film/TV and literature. I also write about matches I attend which generally feature Maidenhead United.

Sunday, 12 October 2014

That's All Right Elvijs

Much of the focus in recent weeks at York Road has been on the forwards, whether that be for their lack of goals, the signing of DJ Campbell or in the last fortnight their goal glut, but yesterday it was time for the defence to step up and dig in to ensure the Magpies would be in the draw for the fourth and final qualifying round on Monday.
Gosport have come along way as a club since they joined the Conference South in the summer of 2013, working their way through a transfer embargo, storm damage to the ground and the theft of their pitch to stand now as a formidable outfit. As United found out at the start of the season Borough play with strength, and discipline at a high tempo. They do the simple things well, and with the Magpies returning to top form a cracking cup tie was in prospect. Add in a heavy pitch freshened up by torrential rain at kick off and the bumper Cup crowd got exactly that in a game that although short on goals lived up to expectations as a tense affair with both sides happy to fight again on Tuesday for a place in the next round.
Attendance: 519+1 bear
The Gosport supporters however showed they were yet to adjust to life at a higher level, standing at the same end for the whole game, their flag somewhat dwarfing their surprisingly small travelling support given their home crowds.Their error was then compounded by the banging of a drum.
Drax had the luxury of being able to name an unchanged team and as on Tuesday the Magpies started brightly but without an end product. Twice within the first quarter of an hour DJ Campbell had chances to open the scoring, firstly with a free header from the edge of the six yard box and then later, having caught Brett Poate in possession, burst clear into the penalty area opting to square the ball to Adrian Clifton when he might have been more selfish and gone for goal himself with keeper Nathan Ashmore collecting the pass before it reached Clifton.
From this point on it was Gosport who had the upper hand until the final whistle. Their uncomplicated approach of defence in depth and direct early balls unsettling Maidenhead throughout. Winning the 50/50 balls in their half Borough were able to keep the United attack in check which enabled them to ratchet up the pressure on the opposition defence. 
The impressive Steven Ramsay served notice of Gosport's intentions with a dipping shot from distance which was superbly tipped over the bar by Elvijs Putnins. Maidenhead were then unable to clear their lines and within sixty seconds Justin Bennett headed in at the far post from a Ramsey corner in the nineteenth minute. Borough continued to press for a second goal, firing a number of crosses across the face of the United six yard box, with Andrew Forbes coming closest, his header being scrambled off the line by Putnins and Simon Downer.
Downer, protecting his unbeaten record in United colours was having another fine game, making some judicious tackles to hold the Magpie line which brought enough respite to create an opportunity to equalise nine minutes ahead of the break. A Campbell effort was blocked on the line by a collection of Borough defenders which typified their will to win spirit, but fortunately the loose ball fell to Harry Pritchard who thumped the ball into the top of the net.
Within a minute of the restart, Ashmore was given the opportunity to show his talent with an astonishing save to divert a rocket of a Clifton shot but from this point on the focus switched to the other end as Gosport gave it the kitchen sink treatment to try and force a winner.
With a succession of Gosport corners, the Maidenhead had to be at their absolute best to protect Putnins goal, with Downer and Mark Nisbet thriving under the pressure. Downer was required again to head off the line from a Forbes header whilst once more Putnins saved at full stretch from Ramsey, pushing his free kick round the post. To almost complete the repeat of the first half Bennett looked set to score with a shot only for Putnins to save one handed, diving along the ground to ensure the loose ball was also pushed out of the way of the opposition players following up.
The introduction of Reece Tison-Lascaris, Jacob Erskine and Lanre Azeez, provided the glimmer of a threat on the break, but despite some deft touches from Erskine, Gosport capably dealt with these attacks and understandably on a heavy pitch the action faded in the dying minutes to end the game in a draw.
All in all a fair outcome with all the plaudits being directed to the Maidenhead defence, and in particular Putnins whose string of saves under pressure ensured the hard work of his team mate was not wasted and gives everyone the chance to fight another day.
No bear left behind

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